How to Get Great Tone From a Twin Reverb

Written by simon foden Google
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How to Get Great Tone From a Twin Reverb
Buddy Guy gets his tone from a Fender Stratocaster and Twin Reverb. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The Twin Reverb is an iconic, 85-watt tube amplifier from Fender. It has a distinctive bright and raspy tone that many notable players favour, including Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The amp has four 12AX7 preamp tubes, two 12AT7 preamp tubes and four 6L6L power tubes. The tubes give the Fender Twin Reverb its characteristic tone. There is no right or wrong way to set up your amp, but there are some basic principles for optimising it to enhance the tone of your guitar.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 1/4-inch jack instrument cable

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    Set Up

  1. 1

    Connect a 1/4-inch jack cable to input "1" in the "Normal" channel. This is the high gain channel that suits most guitars; it has 6-db more gain than input "2." If you have a guitar with humbucker pickups, use input "2" in the same channel. For the best pure Twin Reverb tone, bypass all of your effects pedals and plug directly into the amplifier.

  2. 2

    Turn the "Standby" switch on and leave the amp to warm up for five minutes. The switch is located on the back of the amplifier. Standby sends an attenuated charge to the tubes, sufficient to heat them but not so strong as to create a surge.

  3. 3

    Turn on the "Power" switch, located next to the "Standby" switch. This delivers full power to the tubes and speakers.

  4. 4

    Turn the "Master" volume dial down. Always start with the master volume at zero; this way, any accidents, such as cables coming loose, don't result in potentially dangerous surges of noise.

    Hot Tone

  1. 1

    Dial the "Volume" dial on the left hand side of the amp up to around 6 or 7. The "Volume" dial governs the volume of the channel. The higher the volume, the more the preamp stage drives the power stage, creating overdrive. The type of guitar you have determines which level is most suitable. If you have single-coil pickups, for example, on a Fender Stratocaster, you can afford to dial it a little higher as those pickups are less powerful. If you have humbuckers, dial it to around 5 so you don't create a muddy distortion.

  2. 2

    Toggle the "Bright" switch to suit your guitar. This adds a small degree of high frequency boost to your guitar. If you have a Les Paul, this could enhance the tone nicely. It may be a little too bright to use with a Telecaster. Try it and see.

  3. 3

    Set the "Treble," "Middle" and "Bass" dials to 5. This provides a neutral starting point for equalisation. Tweak them in small amounts each direction while strumming your low E string. Stop tweaking when you hit a setting that enhances your guitar's natural tone. This is called "the sweet-spot."

    Clean Tone

  1. 1

    Plug into input "1" on the "Vibrato" channel, or "2" if you have a high-output guitar.

  2. 2

    Adjust the "Speed" and "Intensity" dials to customise the vibrato sound. Vibrato creates a "wobbling" sound as the amp circuitry modulates the volume. Set the "Speed" dial for a fluttering sound, set it low for a subtle, pulsing sound. The "Intensity" dial governs the jump in volume from the original signal to the modulate signal.

  3. 3

    Set "Reverb" to between "5" and "7" for a roomy, ambient sound.

  4. 4

    Set the equalisation dials to "5" and begin tweaking from there.

Tips and warnings

  • Listen to the amp from a variety of distances and angles to get an accurate reflection of sound.

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